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UK Study: Workers refusing social networking will be disenfranchised

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As reported by Nick Collins and Andrew Hough of The Telegraph, a UK government report released Monday predicted that having an online presence could become so common that refusal to engage in social networking over the internet “could appear unusual or even suspicious.”

The spread of social media and increasing amount of personal information we put online is redefining the way people see themselves and form social groups, per the report.

Per Sir John Beddington, Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK government, commenting on the report,

…[T]here [is] an emerging “dichotomy” as the way we communicate and form social groups becomes more web-orientated. Hyper-connectivity, the spread of social media and the increase in online personal information are key factors which will influence identity in the next decade.

The generation born, who will have grown up with social networking and with a digital age, is starting to turn into adulthood and at the same time you have an older and more elderly population, which arguably could become partly disfranchised.

Social is going to become so prevalent that we’ll need to re-train older workers who have opted not to stay up to speed, per Beddington.

As an ageing population and older workforce creates changing identities, inequality in digital knowledge and skills, particularly among older workers and the retired elderly, will need to be addressed.

Could we see lawyers refusing to use social media and social networking be disenfranchised and need re-training? Stranger things have happened.

Attorney Dan Goldman, in-house counsel for Mayo Clinic, looks at social media and social networking as a matter of remaining relevant. If lawyers aren’t connected with clients, prospective clients, referral sources, and the business community, they’ll become irrelevant.

Speaking at a Hildebrandt conference last summer, Goldman, who labeled himself a social networking skeptic at first, explained that the number of in-house using social networking to connect and building relationships is growing significantly.

He believed that 50% of in-house counsel in the 35 year old age group use social networks to connect. Goldman stated the obvious, that being that for new law grads becoming in-house counsel, of which he said there a significant number of them, 95% used social networking to connect.

Interesting times ahead for lawyers opting out of social networking. They could become conspicuous by their absence and irrelevant for failing to remain connected with their audience.

Image courtesy of Flickr by torbakhopper.